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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Indians 22, Yankees 0

How's that $186 million payroll feel tonight, George?

A Renaissance In The M's Blogosphere

... as the Mariners finally win five straight, dropping the Royals 7-5. Does this mean Mariner Optimist will finally start up again?

Bad Lackey! No Biscuit!

You don't spot the Red Sox a walk. Down by three, they've already lost this game. He has nothing. And the Sox are two batters away from batting around. In the first.

Update: And Dave Roberts homers? Dave Roberts?

Update, Top 9th: Alfredo. Amezega. It's only his third major league home run, and a grand slam to boot. Christamightydamn, that's hi-larious!

Maybe somebody over at the Angels website should have picked another title for today's game preview besides "Angels Wild In Boston". Lackey sure was...

Positive: Glaus went 2-4 with a single and a double. Not bad. And Anderson 2-5, both doubles, and one of them off that Foulking liar.


A History of Disney And The Angels

Save Disney, a website launched by Roy Disney and dedicated to getting Michael Eisner fired, has a new article about Disney's corporate ownership of the team. Author Cam Miller gets into the motivations of Disney ownership (which were admittedly murky), those embarrassing periwinkle uniforms, and the negative influence of Tony Tavares on the team. Save Disney has an obvious axe to grind; as a tonic, you might want to consider this Stephen Smith column, "Cheap Disney!". Disney never did the Angels such a service as when they actually sold the team, but much of the club's rejuvenation can also be laid at their feet: hiring Bill Stoneman was clearly a big key, as was the reignition of the team's Latin American scouting and a rededication to the farm system. Miller conveniently leaves these parts out, as they don't fit his purposes, but balance demands they be considered.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Pickoff Moves

Geesh. I took a piece of hardwood straight to the gut yesterday, which, I suppose, serves me right for taking the safeties off the table saw. Stings like a sumbitch; hence this middle-of-the-night column.

In Boston, The Joy Of (Nomarless) Sox

The national press continues their lame-brained assault on DePodesta's trades, so it should be no surprise to learn that the same minds invoking Enchanted Tiki Room theories of team construction have already fixed on losing Nomar as the reason for the team's late success. The club is 17-8 since Nomar was transmogrified into a Cub, and Kevin Millar, for one, agrees:
"Sure," said Millar. "You start with the guy who said, `Hey, we want Alex Rodriguez!' . . . Actually, only time is going to tell on this deal. We hadn't played so great before the trade happened. Now we're playing better. I don't know what the reason is. It would be unfair to say that trading Nomar is the reason, but is it part of it?

"I think so, yeah."

Okay, so we're dealing with the notoriously bitchy Boston sports press, but come on -- look at their schedule since August 1st:

Team       Games  Record
Minnesota    1      0-1
Tampa Bay    7      5-2
Detroit      7      6-1
Toronto      6      5-1
Chicago      6      4-2

(The article was written on the 27th, which explains the discrepancy between the win-loss record in the article and their current situation.) The Devil Rays and Detroit are improved, no doubt, but they're not the A's, either; and the Chisox are minus Frank Thomas and Magglio Ordoñez, without whom, their offense is decidedly sunk.

Tuesday's probables -- Lackey vs. Schilling -- don't even look close on paper. Schilling has settled down in his recent starts (1.69 ERA last three starts), while Lackey's reverted to his old, bad gascan ways. Here's hoping he can calm down some, and that Glaus in the lineup equals the kind of bat we need, rather than a prayer in the batting order.

Some Love For The Angels At BP

Joe Sheehan gives it up, with faint praise, for the Angels:
The Angels are once again executing an unreliable plan as well as it can be executed. If you live and die by batting average, you can win when you hit .280. Be a little bit worse--as they were in 2003, when they hit .268, or in 2001, when they hit .261--and you can't score enough runs to win because you don't have enough runners on base. They don't walk; only the Royals have fewer than the Halos' 344 bases on balls. Their isolated power of .145 is just 10th in the league, and by far the worst of any good AL team. They hit singles better than anyone else, though, and in '04, they're doing it well enough to have a winning lineup.

... As important to the Angels' success as their offense is their bullpen, which has been lights-out for the fourth year under Mike Scioscia. While no starting pitcher has an ERA under 4.11, every single reliever with at least 20 appearances is under than figure.

... Watching Scioscia handle Percival has been interesting, because it's the one decision in his tenure in which he's allowed performance issues to take a back seat to other concerns. Whereas Scioscia has consistently allowed no-name pitchers to win important roles in his bullpen, and to show a similar lack of concern for reputation in doling out playing time to hitters, in Percival's case, he's shown a strange tendency to protect the player. Yes, Rodriguez has 10 saves this season, but almost all of them have come while Percival was unavailable. Percival has never been treated as anything but the closer, a fact evident in his usage pattern.

Well, maybe that has something to do with the fact that Frankie has six blown saves in 16 opportunities, not the most encouraging thing to think about with a narrow lead in late innings.

The sabermetric guys don't give the Angels much love -- and I confess, they don't deserve it -- but this is about as close to grudging respect as you'll get from any writer at Baseball Prospectus:

We know that in five weeks, anything can happen--the Devil Rays' June should have convinced even the most stubborn of that--so making a prediction is a bad idea. I can say, however, that the Angels are more likely to catch the A's and Red Sox than the Rangers are. Moreover, I think the Angels have enough of an edge on offense and in the bullpen to make them a favorite, a small one, over the Sox. I don't think they're better than the A's right now, although I could see the two teams finishing on the last weekend having both clinched playoff spots.

Giants 9, Braves 5

"A swing and a drive -- and it's 695!"

That's about where I came into this game, just before a piece of Brazilian eucalyptus went flying into my gut. It must have felt about the same way for ex-Giant Russ Ortiz, whose "pitch-to-Bonds" strategy came badly unglued last night. In fact, Bobby Cox made two key errors: pitching to Bonds with men on base, and bringing in -- then removing -- Tom Martin before Bonds came up. Martin has given up no home runs against Bonds in his career, and in fact Bonds is only hitting .214/.267/.214 against him. If ever you were going to use Martin in a tight spot, that one was it. Chicken or no, Tracy's walking Bonds looks like a good strategy, especially with nobody on.

With only four homers left to go to 700, I'm betting that guy won't get his ball. Not that I'm sad or anything; at least the Dodgers will be spared that particular ignominy. For years, it seemed like anytime Barry needed to reach an important milestone, he'd do it in our yard. Not this time, buddy.
The Giants are now five back of the Dodgers in the division, and in a three-way tie with the Padres and Cubs for the Wildcard. Hoping to get a little help down the stretch, rumors are flying of a waiver wire deal for Jeromy Burnitz and Shawn Estes, both of whom (improbably, in Estes' case, 13-6, 6.05 ERA) have rejuvenated their careers at Coors Canaveral, though Estes says he thinks such a deal is "dead" as far as he's concerned. If Burnitz -- one of the game's "Three True Outcomes" players (strikeout, walk, home run) -- plays as well as he did last year for the Dodgers, I have to take that as a sign of desperation by the Giants, as well as a sign that somebody's slipping Sabean arsenic in his morning Starbucks.


Sunday, August 29, 2004

Dodgers 10, Mets 2

Maybe now that we've beaten the Mets in their house we can get some love in the New York press. Newsday columnist Ken Davidoff is still writing that DePo's trades were a bust, going so far as to say he thinks the Dodgers will "fold" and won't even make the playoffs. At least he didn't use the expression "heart and soul". What guys like him fail to comprehend is that the bullpen is still a strength. Exhibit 1: post-All-Star break, excluding Darren Dreifort and his never-to-return knee, elbow, and other assorted and sundry breakables, the bullpen's collective ERA is 2.25. Yup.

But who knows. The possibility that something good is happening in Chavez Ravine -- and maybe that the pressure the Yanks put on young players to win now and win every time is simply idiotic and unreasonable -- dawns upon them. Today's New York Daily News gives column space to Bill Madden's incredible notion -- wait for it -- that the Dodgers got the upper hand on the Yanks in the Brown-for-Weaver-and-Brazoban trade. There is hope, after all.

To the game. Ishii: why hadn't Tracy thought of saying nasty things about him in public before? Of course, maybe he's safe; does Ishii read the Times? Can Ishii read the Times? Another quality start from Ishii, though given his last two outings came against bottom-dwellers in the NL East, you have to think his quality is, in fact, somewhat strained (sorry, Jon).

Starting Ventura was a masterstroke, as Robin stroked a grand slam to cap the proceeding and effectively end the game. Scott Stewart, part of the Indians' awful bullpen, proved why he can't be trusted in tight games, and gave up a run in today's game, pitching 2.0 innings in relief.


Adam Kennedy, Twins Killer -- Again! Angels 4, Twins 2

Damn, I enjoyed that! Is there a better way for a series with the Twins to end than with a walk-off home run from Adam Kennedy? What a sweet reminder of 2002's ALCS. It made watching Guillen, Anderson, and Vlad striking out in the eighth worth every minute. And of course, the second I put up the Glausometer on the sidebar, what does Stoneman do but bring up Troy -- who promptly goes 0-2 with a ninth-inning walk.

The Rally Monkey got us that one, I swear to God.

Escobar -- what can I say about him? It's hard to say which was a better pickup of the last offseason -- him or Guillen. Great game from him, and another spectacular outing by Frankie.

Batgirl: I can understand the fact that nobody gives the Twins any love in the national press. But:

That said, the A's are no great shakes this year (now watch, they'll trample the Angels next time we see them), and the Yankees are as weak as I can recall. It's as even a match as we've seen recently.

Thanks, AK!

Update: Here's the Bat-Girl recap, from which one poster asked the question that must be ringing in Minnesotans' ears:

... what the hell have we done to piss off Adam Kennedy? He seems to turn into Barry Bonds when a Twins pitcher is on the mound.
Also, as usual, the MLB recap. Sean at Purgatory Online passes on the wacky addendum that the Twins' announcer dismissed AK as a power threat just before he wailed one out of the park.


Saturday, August 28, 2004

Pickoff Moves

DH Rule In The Minors

Something that's always puzzled me is the use of the DH in the minor leagues: why is it sometimes used but not others? I dropped Bill Valentine, GM of the Angels' AA affiliate, the Arkansas Travelers, a line on this. His response is that the DH is always used unless both teams' parents are National League teams. Thanks for the tip, Bill.

Dodgers 4, Mets 2

Another no-decision for poor Odalis. Can we just nickname him "No-dalis"?
"I know it's another no-decision, but I left down a run and we came back and it was big for us to win the game," said Perez. "I said after the last game, I don't worry about it. I'm a good pitcher. I made the adjustment."
Yes, OP, you are that. 42 and 5-5 for Belly. MVP? It's hard to make the case that Bonds isn't the NL MVP, but the mechanics of voting being what they are, if the Dodgers make it to the postseason, its conceivable the vote split if two Cardinals get a nomination would be sufficient to let Belly slip in.

The Giants lost to the Braves, 9-3, and so the Dodgers regain a five-game lead atop the NL West.


Astros 7, Cubs 6

The Cubs continue to sputter. After an 8-2 streak since August 10th, the Cubs' ran into an Astros team fighting for its life. Carlos Zambrano, who had been one of the Cubs' most reliable starters, gave up seven runs, three earned, in five and two-thirds innings. Three errors, including one by Zambrano himself, caused four runs to cross the plate.

The Cubs are now fourteen games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central, and lead the NL Wildcard race by one game.


Shameless Pitching

BaseballOutsider dropped me a line about their just-launched radio program, Outsider Radio. Well, there's no radio -- yet, anyway -- but the production values are amazingly high quality for a no-budget show. This week's episode includes an interview with Dodger Thoughts author Jon Weisman, and it's worth the listen.

Santana Claus Brings A Present: Twins 7, Angels 1

As regular readers of this fine blog know, I have the Magic Tickets with the Dodgers. However, with the Angels I seem to have accursed tickets. This is now the second time I've gone with my sister-in-law's Girl Scout troop, the second time we've had seats in the far corner of the outfield -- i.e., seats with a poor view of the field, ones where you're chronically trying to figure out what just happened. It's also the second time we've seen a lopsided loss to a potential postseason contender. Last year's was also Rich Harden's debut, an 8-1 crushing against a struggling Aaron Sele.

Today's collapse was pretty predictable: bad Colon shows up, Santana Claus brings the Angels a present -- the bad kind -- and next thing you know, the Angels are down 5-0. That's not to say Bart needed a lump of coal in his stocking the whole game: excluding the third, he only gave up four hits and one run. But there was just no way we could expect Vlad and Guillen to get past a guy with a 10.20 K/9, and in fact, they struck out a combined five times against Minnesota, three of those against Santana.

Is there anyone left who doubts the hole in the bullpen left by the effective version of Ben Weber? When your once-vaunted bullpen starts handing out home runs to guys like Augie Ojeda (today's homer is only the fourth in his five-year major league career), you have to wonder whether you can legitimately count your pen as a strength. Gregg just can't seem to get out of an inning without spotting the opposition a run or two, or at the very least, a couple baserunners. Hensley has become mop-up (though he wasn't terrible today). Ben's got a 9.26 ERA with a 10.32 K/9 and a 2.17 K/BB ratio at hitter-friendly Salt Lake in the hitter-friendly PCL. If he can drop his ERA some, he might have a shot at returning. Meantime, we have Frankie, Scot ... and the arsonists.


Snakes Buckle, Offer Drew Major League Contract

Baseball America reports the Diamondbacks have offered first-round pick Steven Drew a major-league contract for the years 2005-2008; the overall package is believed to be close to $4.79 million. If Boras gets this one, he's turned around a string of defeats.

The Arizona Republic reports the package is "worth substantially more than the $5.75 million package made available to Rickie Weeks, the No. 2 overall selection in last year's draft who signed with the Milwaukee Brewers."

Some Standings Notes

Friday, August 27, 2004

Adam Kennedy, Twins Killer: Angels 9, Twins 6

Is it payback time for Troy Glaus? Corey Koskie took a hit on a very ugly slide by Curtis Pride (who shouldn't have been running). Koskie was on his way to a nearby hospital for X-rays to check out his badly battered ankle.

If you're Shannon Stewart, you're having a "D'oh!" moment right about now. For some reason, I seem to be watching whenever the Angels pick up a particularly spectacular stupid play by the other team; last year it was Trot Nixon's "how many outs is it?" throw of a live ball into the stands. This year, it was Stewart forgetting there were only two outs, and AK scored from second. But as Helen observed, it didn't affect the outcome of the game, since all that would have changed was who drove in Kennedy (Anderson as opposed to Eckstein).

Raise your hand if you thought you'd see consecutive implosions (well, kinda sorta) of both Donnelly and Shields. Raise both hands if you thought you'd see Scioscia bring in Percival to pull Shields' chestnuts out of the fire.

We got a welcome sight when GA took one deep; his power outage may be eroding, with five doubles and two homers on the month. Sure, it's not Barry Bonds numbers, but it beats the one double and one homer he got last month. It's a good time for him to warm up, anyway.

Adam Kennedy's kinda almost making a believer of me. Not only is he hitting .455/.519/.591 over the last week, but he picked up a spectacular double play in tonight's game that completely saved Sele's bacon. Likewise, Erstad's late recovery -- hitting .351/.408/.503 since the All-Star break -- has not only turned around my thinking (recall I wanted him back in centerfield at the start of the season), but it's caught the attention of Steven Goldman at Baseball Prospectus as well:

Last week, TEAMS pursued Erstad into his den to get the lowdown on this sudden turnaround of this poster child for sabermetric anemia. Here is how the interview began:
    TEAMS: You've hit so well lately after struggling for such a long time and...

    ERSTAD: What do you mean "for a long time struggling?" Like what?

    Reader, here TEAMS failed you. Taking into account the angry glare with which Erstad was now fixing your host, TEAMS hesitated to give the proper answer, "Like, forever," and instead said...

    TEAMS: Uh, the last couple of years you had numbers that -

    ERSTAD: I played 60 games last year. It's kind of harsh to say that I...

    TEAMS (laughing nervously): Right.

    ERSTAD: You know what I mean?

    TEAMS (glancing about for an exit): Right.

    ERSTAD: So it's just--I'm finding holes, you know?

    TEAMS: Your approach hasn't changed?

    ERSTAD: No. Just swing and put in play and sometimes it falls and sometimes it doesn't, you know?

Anyway, I'm sure Batgirl will be upset after tonight. Not only did the team lose, but they might have lost Koskie for a substantial time. With Oakland beating the surprisingly pesky Devil Rays (they chased Mark Redman after the second), the Angels gained no ground in the division; and with Texas beating a badly slumping Baltimore club (why couldn't they have been slumping when we saw them?) and Boston getting bruised in a win over Detroit, the wildcard remained unchanged as well.


Review: It Could Happen

Some of you may recall that a a fellow bought a mess of outfield pavilion seats on the possibility that Barry Bonds might hit his 700th home run at Dodger Stadium. With Bonds now at 693, that puts 700 seven away.

It could happen.

Update 8/30: Refound a story about this on MSNBC, where they don't drop stories off the site as often as the Daily News.

"It's Going To Be A Sweep"

Pessimist that I am, I was poking around through the Retrosheet data for the Angels in 2002. They didn't clinch a playoff spot until September 26, but the important thing to remember is that they were playing tough teams that September, too:
Team      Record
Baltimore   2-0
Oakland     4-4
Seattle     1-3
Texas       1-2
The Angels don't have anything like a commanding lead over Texas at this point -- and despite my earlier cynicism, Chan Ho Park pitched well in his first outing. It's hardly a given, and bad things could still happen. But Wash and Glaus returning could be huge. Or, what does Jeff Nelson know?
Nothing against the Angels, because they are a good team and deserve to be in the playoffs, but I think the Yankees are going to win the Division Series and it's going to be a sweep.

Yep, it will be three games and out for the Angels.

Of course, it could be worse: you could be the even more consistently wrong John Burkett, then-RHP for the Red Sox. On the Angels in the ALDS:
I guess it's time for me to make my prediction: I'll take the Yankees in four.
Burkett, just before game three of the ALDS:
I think the Yankees will take these next two. That's just my opinion. I'm not writing the Angels off or anything.
Well, actually, yeah, you were, John: that would have been the series. And again after the split at the Metrodome in the first two games of the ALDS:
Why am I still going with the Twins in seven even though the Angels have impressed me so much? Probably because of defense. I think the Twins are probably the best team in the league defensively, and that could prove to be big. Both of these teams are good, so it's hard to go against either one.
(Actually, Burkett was wrong there, too. Anaheim was the best defensive team in the majors that year -- but that's a legitimate area for concern this year, because the team's defensive efficiency is now among the bottom half of the AL.)

I won't bother to pick up the rest of his commentary (IIRC he picked the Giants to take the series), but you get the point. Call me overly optimistic here, but for some stupid reason, I think the Angels can pull this one off.

Strong, Stronger, Strongest

They only love you when you beat the Yankees. In ESPN's Power Rankings, regarding the Angels:
This is a team no other club will want to play in the postseason. They're solid from top to bottom.
Clearly, somebody didn't watch Ramon's last performance against weak sister Kansas City, although I'm willing to cut Ramon some slack there because of the extended delay between innings.

Also taking a bite out of the Yanks was the Twins, who if not for the arm of one Nathan Silva, would have swept the Yanks at the Metrodome. And yet, they only appear seventh on the Power Meter; maybe it's just that AL Central teams keep getting used as mops in the postseason. Well, we're going to see just how tough they are: we're about to get the top of their rotation, starting with Radke:

Friday 8/27Radke9-63.41Sele7-14.43
Saturday 8/28Santana14-63.13Escobar8-94.11
Sunday 8/29Silva10-84.71Colon13-95.30

So we're also seeing one of those pitchers known to Batgirl as the "Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Sucky-Pitcher Pants" part of their rotation. Kelvim, I hope that blister's healed.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Boy, Troy!

Ho hum. Another game, another homer. Of course, the bad news is Troy's not getting any hits other than home runs, with a .200 average in three games over his rehab stint.

Walk On By: Dodgers 10, Expos 3

A funny thing happened on the way to the ballpark: Livan Hernandez walked in two runs after loading the bases. It's definitely not the kind of behavior you expect in a quality pitcher, and most of the time, Hernandez is one.

Gagné came back today; can anybody else ever remember seeing him smile on the mound? I sure can't. There's tragedy in Montreal, but it's forgotten like the last-place Expos; the crowd was out to see Gagné if they couldn't get a win, and before a home-town crowd, he nearly struck out the side, to their cheers.


Pickoff Moves

Scott Drew, Snakes Negotiations Collapse

The Diamondbacks' first-round pick, Scott Drew, has announced he may start fall classes by the end of the week, thus voiding Arizona's draft pick for him. (He will become eligible to be drafted again in 2005.) Speculation abounds as to why this might be, from his advisor Scott Boras (recall his older brother, J.D., plays with the Braves) asking for too much money and stalling the negotiations, to bad blood between new Arizona CEO Jeff Moorad (and former player representative) and Boras. And even though Arizona will likely have first pick next year, draft rules forbid -- unless the player consents in writing -- re-drafting the same player the next year.

Stick A Fork In 'Em

Joel Pineiro of the Mariners and Jason Giambi of the Yanks are unlikely to return this season.

Chan Ho Ready To Throw

Good news for the Angels: Chan Ho Park is ready to return to the mound:
"I feel great. I haven't really been off. I've been pitching in minor league games," Park said this week. "I want to pitch hard and to win, just relax and pitch like it's any other game. My back is pretty good."
Whatever. We've heard it before.

Wait Til Next Year Ranks AL West Prospects

Yet another farm system ranking, this time from Wait Til Next Year. As seems pretty typical, the Angels' system comes out on top.

Update: I forgot to mention that WTNY also has a very good interview with Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner about the AL West's farm systems; he's got this to say about the Angels:

Cameron: I think Anaheim’s system is the best in the game, and it isn’t particularly close. Kotchman is an unbelievable talent if he can stay healthy. Mathis, McPherson, and Santana are the big names, but the lower levels are stacked as well. They just have waves of talent heading towards Edison Field.
On the Next Big Thing:
Smith: Finish this sentence: the next great baseball phenom is…
Cameron: Felix Hernandez, if he doesn’t blow his arm out.

Big Unit Fails To Clear Waivers

Randy Johnson didn't make it through waivers yesterday. Could be nothing, could be huge.

I Got Yer Rings Right Here: Montreal 6, Dodgers 3

I was going to write a summary of Jose Lima's career ERAs for August and September, but ESPN doesn't keep trailing splits for more than three years. Still, 8.32 and 5.80 are not exceptional numbers, and you'd expect him to melt in the postseason, as he did in 1999 with Houston (5.40 ERA in 6.2 IP).

The Giants walked in the winning run last night, beating the Fish 6-5, tieing the series. The Dodgers now lead the NL West by a mere 4.0 games.


Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Blackjack! Angels 21, Royals 6

After this much giddiness, it's a good thing to remember we're going up against the Twins again over the weekend. That is, the Angels are headed from the dregs of the AL Central to its class, and that's not likely to be an easy transition. Considering how sloppily the Yankees have played lately, I wouldn't entirely be surprised if the Twins finally made it into the World Series this year, instead of getting squelched in the playoffs.

That said...

Jose Molina with a grand slam, the first of his career? Jeffy, hitting for the cycle? It makes you wonder how many artillery shells they keep on hand at Angel Stadium.


OT: NBC's High-Duh Olympics

I'm glad, for one thing, that I didn't buy an HDTV with an eye to watching the Olympics. The coverage has been simply awful, and I'm not the only one to notice.
Larry Gerbrandt, a television analyst from AlixPartners LLC in Los Angeles, had just bought a 50-inch plasma TV and invited his friends over for a party to watch the opening ceremonies in high-definition.

Instead, the HDTV feed initially offered only highlights from the 2002 Winter Olympics (news - web sites), he said. When 2004 pictures eventually arrived, they weren't narrated by Bob Costas and Katie Couric, he said.

"Instead of treating the HDTV customer as a premium viewer, they've been treating them like throwaways," Gerbrandt said. "NBC blew a chance to showcase and really sell HDTV."

I hadn't been paying close attention -- I'd leave the TV on while we had friends over the last couple weekends -- but when I read King Kaufman's commentary on Salon, it immediately rang true. Monday, Kaufman ran some letters from readers that neatly encapsulated the problems with the coverage, citing constant interruptions, inane editing, twenty-four-hour-plus tape delays, inexplicable jumping from event to event, and complete lack of synchronization with the NTSC broadcast. But perhaps the funniest -- and most damning -- take came from reader John O'Brien:
As an HD viewer, I may have an insight into why NBC's overall coverage is better than average: They've exiled all the morons into their HD broadcast where they can do less damage.

The HD broadcasts have been bad in a way that is seldom seen in the slickly produced world of network TV. My first suspicions that my shiny new HDTV would be wasted on the Olympics came during the Opening Ceremonies -- somewhere around the S's in the Parade of Nations, they suddenly skipped back to the M's and repeated the parade from there. This may have gone on all night in an endless loop. When I tuned in the next morning, they were still showing the Parade of Nations.

You wouldn't know it from the breathless hype they are giving the HD coverage on the other channels, but the HD stuff is on a 24-hour delay. You might think this would lend itself to gross over-production (see NBC's coverage of the Sydney Olympics), but so far as I can tell, the HD broadcast isn't being produced at all. Sometimes the events are shown out of order.

Often they jump from one event to another, without a bridge to explain what is going on. Sometimes events are repeated "Teletubbies" style. They finish showing one race, someone's toddler obviously shouts, "Again! Again!" and they show the exact same race again. Sometimes they don't show anything at all, instead filling massive blocks of time with a repeating montage of the same 10 images of Greek tourist attractions. (Two of these images feature donkeys. In any given one-hour period, these donkeys are shown roughly 200 times apiece.)

The crowning moment for the HD coverage came during the men's all-around gymnastics final (Wednesday night for regular viewers, Thursday for the HD audience). Announcer Paul Sunderland became more and more frustrated with the completely random way the producers were deciding what to broadcast.

During the fifth rotation, the camera became fixated on Romanian Marian Dragulescu wrapping his wrists for his next event. After several minutes of this, Sunderland finally lost it and started complaining on air: "There's gymnastics going on out there! The event is still going on! Why are they showing this! They're showing this because they are STUPID!" (I'm paraphrasing, but pretty closely)

Remember, this was broadcast the next day. In 24 hours, the producers at NBC-HD didn't have time to edit out a smackdown by their own play-by-play guy? Pathetic. But pure comedy gold.

It's a pity the incompetent production has driven away all but the most donkey-fixated viewers from the HD coverage by now, since Sunderland and the other announcers are actually doing a fine job. If you can get to an HD TV, it's worth checking out a little of the broadcast. Such a pure expression of the Olympic ideal of amateurism will probably never again be seen on a U.S. network.

This is appalling stuff. My sister actually ponied up for an HD set specifically for the Olympics, and I have to think she's wondering why now.

Now How Much Would You Pay? Dodgers 10, Expos 2

Last night's pounding of Montreal, a game in which Beltre hit 40 dingers on the year, prompted Jon to ask that eternal question, well-known to carnies, used-car salesmen, and insomniacs, "Now how much would you pay?" Before I get to that, let's consider a couple points.

First, remember that prior to the 2002 trade deadline, rumors flew about a Beltre-for-Rolen deal. While I don't think the Dodgers would have come out on the short end of that stick this year, the next few are the ones we need to consider, and it's altogether possible that Beltre is going to be a premier third baseman in the foreseeable future. Age is the principle factor here.

Second: how much are third basemen with similar VORP getting paid? Well, that's a tiny number right now. Belly's got a 69.8 VORP, tying him with the Cards' Scott Rolen:

PlayerTeamAgeYTD VORP2004 Salary
Scott RolenCardinals2969.8$6.18M
Melvin MoraOrioles3266.0$3.5M
Alex RodriguezYankees2846.5$20M
Aramis RamirezCubs2645.8$6M
Mike LowellMarlins3043.8$8M
Eric ChavezAthletics2639.3$5.70M

When making decisions like this, you have to ask yourself, "What did they do in the past?" and, "What will they do in the future?"

Beltre's inconsistency throughout his career is the wild card; the upside is his age. My feeling is you offer him $6M scaling to $12M over five years, with incentives amounting to $2M annually for performance above and beyond, say, 20 homers, MVP titles, etc. Suitors are lining up: in New York, they're garroting A-Rod in public for his lackadaisical production, comparing him unfavorably to Beltre. Remember, stars don't grow on trees, and Beltre is not an opportunity to be missed; this could be a watershed moment for the franchise, in the same vein as losing Gary Sheffield. Futility Infielder checks in on that possibility with the second part of his three-part series on Shef, relating the Dodgers' missed opportunity. Even though Jaffe misses Sheffield's 2001 September slump in his analysis, Sheffield's rant about the non-risks of long-terming him was, in hindsight, spot-on:
"A risk? Come on, they're paying Brownie (Kevin Brown) $15 million a year until he's 41," Sheffield was quoted as saying. "They just gave [Darren] Dreifort $55 million when he's only won 39 games in his career and had arm surgery. They gave Shawn Green $13 million a year. And how about Carlos Perez -- paying him $6 million a year?

"And you talk about risk, that I'm a risk? That's an insult. ... I'm getting less than Dreifort? I'm getting just $3 million more than Carlos Perez? It's not my fault they signed Perez to that stupid contract. It's not my fault they gave Eric Karros a no-trade clause when he's got no value. It's not my fault they gave Greenie all that money.

"They give out all of these dumb contracts, and when it comes to me -- nothing. And I'm even willing to defer a lot of the money for that. They were saying how they lost $25 million. I almost laughed in their face."

"How much are you willing to pay?" he asks. Better put, "how much are you willing to lose?"
Lost in the Beltre-buzzsaw was Ishii's gun-to-the-head performance, two earned runs in seven and a third innings, as well as a remarkable outing for newcomer Masao Kida. Ishii earned himself another start, but that fact alone makes me nervous; he hasn't proved he can be consistent, the key word. The fact that his job hangs by a thread -- and might be Nomo if he fails -- is not especially comforting.

Props also to Alex Cora, who channeled A-Rod for one at bat yesterday.


Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Dodgers Renew Contract With Las Vegas

The Dodgers have renewed their minor league contract with Las Vegas for two years. In all probability, this means that any deal moving the Expos to Vegas is dead, dead, deadsky, and the 51s franchise will possibly have a new home in Henderson, Nevada.

Pickoff Moves

Nomo To Return To Rotation, Penny Out 'Til Mid-September

Hideo Nomo will absolutely return to the rotation if Ishii implodes, writes Bill Shaikin in the Times. "Manager Jim Tracy said the Dodgers would not hesitate to replace [Ishii] in the rotation with Hideo Nomo."

Penny won't be back 'til mid-September or so. "[N]erve irritation from the injury did not abate as the strain healed, with the resulting pain and numbness in the arm delaying Penny's recovery."

Angels, Dodgers To Draw Seven Million Fans

According to ESPN's attendance log, the top three draws in baseball are


which is to say, Southern California is baseball's top market. With the Angels averaging 93% capacity crowds, the team's on target to yet another 3,000,000-plus year.

"If we did fill the seats back in the day, a lot of them were rooting for the other team. You don't see that around here anymore," Percival said. "And we get more people out here from more areas now. In Riverside, everywhere I go, people say, 'I was at the game last night.' "


Moreno also built a reservoir of goodwill by committing nearly $200 million to lure free agents, including superstar Vladimir Guerrero, and retain outfielder Garret Anderson. However, Moreno and McCourt each plan to cut payroll this winter, a delicate challenge for championship hopefuls.

Despite that footnote, the Dodgers and Angels could amass 7,000,000 attendance, the best combined market in the big leagues. Not that shedding payroll will necessarily have a negative effect; the Angels will lose Troy Percival, and the Dodgers Todd Hundley (remember him?).

Giants' Schmidt To Skip Next Start

Something to keep an eye on: Jason Schmidt has a sore groin, and will miss his next start. I've made a lot of the Giants' easy schedule down the stretch, but losing Schmidt could prove catastrophic, Noah Lowry or no.

Incidentally, Lowry, the phenom who held the Cubbies to two earned runs early in August also imploded against the Phillies to the tune of six runs, all earned. I wrote earlier that he might be one of those pitchers the Giants can ride into the postseason, but maybe he's not the Giants' answer to K-Rod.

Thanks, Gary

Gary Sheffield announced last Wednesday that he wouldn't get surgery on his shoulder. After a three-game series with the Angels in which he netted a double and a home run in addition to going 5-12, I can't say the Yanks aren't getting their money's worth, but at least his injured wing didn't hurt us too much.

Two Games

Angels 9, Royals 4

There's the teams you should beat, and the Royals are chief among them. Up until the eighth, Bart had a solid outing, with the Angels absolutely punishing Darrell May (as in, "Darrell, May I Have Another Home Run?"). Big timely hits from guys who needed to get them -- Vlad and Guillen, the latter hitting 3-4 including a solo homer -- and guys at the top of the order doing their jobs, too -- Eckstein 3-3 with a walk, Erstad 2-5.

That we can worry about the right hand side of the equation "Bartolo Colon" plus "playoff game" says volumes about how things have changed over the course of the last few weeks. The Angels still trail Oakland by only a half game, they're atop the Rangers by a game, and tied for the AL Wildcard with Boston. Throw Glaus in at DH and Washburn into the rotation -- if both are healthy -- and that could be the division right there.


Montreal 8, Dodgers 7

To be honest, I've expected an implosion from OP for a while now; he's never been as good as the 2.75 ERA he carried into the game would indicate. But, as he put it after the game,
"I don't think I did nothing wrong," said Perez. "You think your stuff is working, and it doesn't work -- nobody's perfect. There are going to be days when you get crushed and leave the game. It's one of those days. I'm not concerned about it."
And, frankly, neither am I.

This isn't the weak Montreal club that the Dodgers played back in April and May. The Expos are now 12-8 for August. That 7.5 game lead the Dodgers enjoyed as recently as August 11 has been cut nearly in half to only four games.

Beltre continues to amaze. 39 homers and counting. Jon waxed lyric and numeric over his spectacular record already. Beltre's within hailing distance of breaking Harmon Killebrew's record for 49 home runs for a third baseman. Choi recorded yet another incomplete game with two at bats and one single, making his acquisition as questionable as that of the injured Brad Penny. Finley's 2-5 game -- including a bases-clearing double -- shows his bat has been the biggest gain DePodesta's trades have netted to date.

Today, Ishii, and the crapshoot that his arm has become.


Monday, August 23, 2004

Glaus Hits Tape Measure Shots In BP

Jebus X. Christ:
Glaus, the Angels third baseman who has been out since late May because of surgery to repair a frayed rotator cuff and labrum in his right shoulder, showed no ill effects of his injuries Monday, launching at least five home runs during his first live batting practice since returning from rehabilitation in Arizona.

Glaus is not being considered for third base this year or even first base because he's not in condition to throw. If he is able to join the Angels for the stretch run, it will be as a designated hitter.

On Monday, he looked like a good one, hitting for about 20 minutes, depositing two balls over both bullpens in left field, crushing one onto the tarp well beyond the center-field wall, and hitting a majestic foul home run into the upper deck in left field. He also ran the bases aggressively, concentrating on going from first to third.

We get a healthy Washburn back, and Glaus takes some AB's away from singles-hitting Anderson and Salmon and actually produces... dayng. That could be the division we're looking at.

Oh, and good Colón shows up today? Pinch me.

Pickoff Moves

Athletics Nation Wraps Up Beane Interview Series

Again, kudos to Tyler -- it's quite an accomplishment. Part 1, part 2, and part 3 for your reading enjoyment.

Update: Okay, so Beane didn't get the Dodgers GM job. He's not bitter -- if anything, he's happy. But...

Blez: Michael Lewis mentioned that you and Paul had mentioned perhaps getting back together one day and all three running a team.

BB: I’ve whispered about wanting to get involved in an ownership situation. I don’t think that’s that big a secret. The biggest thing for me is that I’m very picky and I want to stay on the West Coast if I possibly can. Particularly at this stage in my life. My daughter and my parents are down in Southern California. Once again, this shouldn’t be taken arrogantly, I would like to be trying to do something else if only for my own personal growth. What that is, well some of those are private thoughts. The one thing you have to be careful of is that restlessness can be a chronic condition.

Frank McCourt, are you taking notes?

Glaus Headed For Minors?

A rehab stint in the minors? That's what Mike Scioscia's saying is a strong possibility for Glaus now. I tend to agree with Richard on this one -- the early return of Glaus would essentially bring back a rusty singles hitter to the club. The only reason to bring him back at all is if they thought he could play third, a near impossibility.
"The optimism the medical staff and Troy are showing is encouraging, but there are some things Troy has to go through before returning," Scioscia said. "There is a possibility of him playing for us, but I don't know if I want to plan for that. Because the important thing is not next month, it's the next 10 years of his career."
Not to mention the fact that the Angels have to be serious about getting into the postseason, and one more guy without a home run stroke puts him in the same league as Eric Owens -- a hanger-on to a team expected to contend.

Braves 10, Dodgers 1

If every time the Dodgers lose a game because of their bullpen the anti-trade people come out shrieking like banshees, should games like yesterday's count as vindication for Paul DePodesta's cardiectomy? That is, the team needed a starter; by his own admission, Alvarez couldn't stand the strain of being in the rotation, so maybe yesterday's result wasn't unsurprising. It's just unfortunate that Penny got himself injured after one game and one out.


Sunday, August 22, 2004

Dancin' In The Streets: Angels 4, Yankees 3

Take that, Evil Empire! We're done with the Yanks for the regular season, and the proud owners of a 5-4 record against them for the year. Woot!

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Pickoff Moves

Somebody said that bulletpoint columns is a lazy way to write. After a glass and a half of Two-Buck Chuck, I'm feeling lazy. Sorry. Tough. Whatever.

Yanks Can't Shake That Loiaza Feeling: Angels 6, Yankees 1

You know, at this point I almost don't care what happens to the Yankees, whether they go to the World Series, whether they win it all or lose it; they've been forced to make midseason desperation moves like trading for Esteban Loaiza in a season where their rotation is as big of a question mark as it has ever been. Not that homegrown pitchers have been a big Yankee strength of late: Andy Pettitte is the only one of consequence to come to mind, but that might just demonstrate my lack of facility with their rotation. Regardless, the Angels' manhandling of the Yankees' most recent acquisition -- recently the subject of still more trade rumors, and then no more -- was a beautiful thing to see, especially Jeffy hitting for power. Shields holding this lineup down for three straight innings after the rain delay was a beautiful thing, as was Frankie's masterful close. Hoping for a sweep is too much, but you may recall that the A's lost two of three to the Yanks on their recent trip through. What a brilliant win. It's too much to hope for a sweep, but this couldn't have come at a better time.


Minor League Rehab Notes

You hope for great things. You hope he'll come out of his funk. And then Nomo gets shelled, four earned runs in four innings, including a home run to Adam Riggs. D-Mac and Jake Thrower homered off Joel Hanrahan and Galarraga went 2-4 and scored a run in the Stingers win.

Galarraga also went 5-5 on Sunday night in the last regular season game to be played by the Stingers against the Edmonton Trappers, ever; the franchise will move to Round Rock, TX next year. Ben Weber gave up two runs in 1.1 innings of relief; his ERA for Salt Lake is now 10.80.

Wash To Pitch Live Tuesday

Washburn will pitch to live batters Tuesday.

Gagné In The Shop

As everyone knows by now, Gagné was rested today, period, though the big guy claims the number of appearances makes no difference:
"… Everybody keeps asking about that, but that's not the point. It's bad pitches I'm making. It's bad decisions. It has nothing to do with anything physical. Physically, I feel great. Mentally, it happens sometimes. Sometimes you don't get it right, and that's what happened the last couple of nights."

Penny Pitching Soon?

Brad Penny thinks he can pitch Tuesday, though this was, apparently, news to the training staff, who haven't cleared him for such activity.

Jackson, Ishii Vie For Rotation Spot

Dodgers.com had Tracy pencilling in Ishii for Tuesday's start, but today the Times claims Edwin Jackson will start against Montreal after only one start in the minors.
"Once again last night, we saw a performance that is similar to some of the others we've seen," Tracy said of Ishii, who struggled with his command and gave up five runs in four innings against the Braves.

"He walked three guys in the first inning, and all three runners came around to score. A four-run first inning was a major difference in the game, but as of right now, he would be our pitcher Tuesday in Montreal."

Dodgers 7, Braves 4

Whew. Win tomorrow, and I'll feel a lot better about the upcoming St. Louis trip. Brazoban was shaky, Weaver's first inning was horrible despite the zero frame (plunking three straight?), Green was -- well, we can't count on him performing like that regularly, can we? Man did that W feel good.


Friday, August 20, 2004

Angels 5, Yankees 0

If two days ago -- heck, at the beginning of the year -- you told me Ramon Ortiz and Troy Percival would combine for a road shutout of the Yankees, I'd have you checked into Fairview. And yet... the team hit like mad, outhitting the Yanks 13-5. AK and Garret Anderson hit home runs -- remember those? Ramon Ortiz, pitching like he means it, pitching the game of his career -- what voodoo envelops him? I mean, okay, sure, you had Vlad running himself out of an inning trying to stretch an infield single into a double -- what stupidity is that? -- but in the main, they took chances that paid off. It feels really good to know the team can get runs when they need them, and more importantly, that they can beat other playoff-bound teams, and convincingly. They really needed that.


Thursday, August 19, 2004

How To Hit Gagné Lessons

Because he caught Gagne for so long, did Lo Duca provide any secrets?

He said he just told his teammates some things to look for.

Well, it wasn't like Eric had his best stuff last night...

Roster Moves

DePo, I liked your moves 'til now, but Elmer Dessens? For cash and OF Jeremy Milons (who?). This the day after Dodgers.com ran a story titled "LA looks for answers within".

Update: On reflection, maybe this makes some sense for him as a reliever; the guy's got a 2.03 ERA in that capacity. Also:


Translated, he's an expensive version of Ben Weber, but the important thing is he and his $4M contract were available.

Update: Jereme Milons, OF, .273/.321/.401 in 103 games with the Columbus Catfish. 99 strikeouts in 436 at bats. Sounds like a typical toolsy hitter with weak plate discipline.

Cubs fans (Helen, this means you) will be happy to note that Transaction Guy says the Padres have disabled Jay Witasick, this along with parking relief stud Osuna on blocks in the front yard. Replacement Steve Watkins is a good story and little else.
Up in Seattle, Justin Leone is down, causing much consternation at Leone for Third.
And just to prove the Dodgers aren't the only ones getting bit by the injury bug, the Snakes disabled Koyie Hill due to a broken ankle.

Angels 10, Devil Rays 7

Well, that settles it: Josh Paul is our new middle-of-the-order hitter.

Or not.

Look, I've said a lot about this before. Mike's said a lot about this before. This team's pitching needs to get it together. Starting tomorrow, they'll have a lot to worry about. Today's performance by Lackey, for instance, amounts to a 5.40 ERA. This team is just stumbling to the finish line.


Chronicles picks up on the rumored acquisition of 3B Shea Hillenbrand, which I hope is a crock; what the Snakes could hope to get for him at this point is a little iffy. He correctly observes that Hillenbrand is a bit of a drop from Figgins offensively. But the real concern isn't at third, it's at center, where Anderson's legs work about as well as the Tin Man's before Dorothy came along. Moving Figgins to CF and Anderson to a platooned DH with Salmon gives the team speed in center -- if not necessarily a quality glove (Figgy, bless him, doesn't always take good paths to the ball, and sometimes breaks late). The point is you don't want to have to start Amezega, the little glove of concrete, or random waiver wire junk at 3B because you have no other options.

New Dodgers Fan Forum

As the Dodgers.com fan forum has grown over the last couple years, the number of participants has increased, leading to problems with decorum and quality of discussion. In response, the cool kids stepped out and created their own new forum, Big Blue Wrecking Crew. At first it was an invitation-only list, but now it's open to the general public. Especially, I commend to you the Down On The Farm threads, which have good summaries of the Dodgers' minor leagues.

Thanks to Bluemamma, Grabarkewitz, kennerbuggy, and everyone else for setting this up. I'm adding a link to this on the sidebar.

Pickoff Moves

OT: A Sabermetric Econometric Look At Election 2004

Ray C. Fair, an economist at Yale, predicts a Bush landslide in the coming election. Fair, a self-described Kerry supporter, claims to have made an equation that predicts, to within 2.5 percentage points, the national vote totals in the Presidential election. War just isn't an issue, he says; nothing trumps economics.

The Snake Pit

Mike's Baseball Rants also noticed something I wrote about Sunday, namely, the Diamondbacks could end up historically bad. Moreover: given their small number of wins, Randy Johnson could own one-third of the team's wins. He's gotta be the best pitcher on the worst team in a long time.

Jon Interviews Ross Porter

Right here. Ross has been a long-time reader of Dodger Thoughts as it turns out, and I'm happy to see him give an interview to the most distinguished Dodger blogger on the block.

Astros So Done

First the news that Andy Pettitte will have season-ending elbow surgery. Then, Roger Clemens injures his calf. Will Carroll weighs in on both, saying Pettitte's injury is a flexor tendon repair similar to the one Jason Schmidt had, and Andy should be back in time for Spring Training. Clemens will make his next start, and might even get moved up a day, though. Regardless, the Astros are done, says BP's Joe Sheehan, both for the season and as a team in contention; Clemens needs to retire, Pettitte needs to hang 'em up for the year, the Killer B's aren't anymore, and the rotation has tottered into ineffectiveness.

They're Not That Short On Starters

The Yankees may have decided three starts with Esteban Loiza is enough, claims the New York Post, and he may get shipped off to the Rangers for prospects:
"They started talking Tuesday night and the Rangers gave the Yankees a list of four minor leaguers that was pretty light," a source said. "They were haggling over whether the Yankees would get one or two players."

The original list included Double-A second baseman Jason Bourgeois, Triple-A utilityman Ramon Navar, and Triple-A pitchers Ryan Snare and Sam Narron. Navar and Narron have limited big-league experience.

Athletics Nation Interviews Billy Beane

What a coup! Way to go, Tyler!

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Gagné, K-Rod, And The Joy Of Strikeouts

Two games today, both displaying the utility of the strikeout --

Angels 6, Devil Rays 4

On a day in which the Angels wouldn't commit to Escobar's next start, and admitted Quinlan's oblique tear is season-ending, today's game qualified as one of Bart's best games. I left my computer (I was listening on Gameday Audio) to run to the bathroom; I stopped to talk to a co-worker; and by the time I got back, Frankie had come frighteningly close to tying the game. But he never did, and thank God.


Marlins 6, Dodgers 4

What an embarrassing game. Jon disagrees, but it occurs to me that Gagné hasn't been qualitatively as good as he was last year. Consider:


(Note: standard deviations were calculated based on month-by-month totals; total differences are based on annual values.) Which means -- his WHIP and SLG have both increased over last year, by appreciable amounts, and his K/9 has decreased. The only substantial improvement Gagne has made was the notable increase in his K/BB ratio. All his peripherals here have been accompanied by increases, substantial in the cases of WHIP, K/9, and K/BB, of his standard deviations on these skills. He's still a great pitcher, but on any given outing, he's less likely to be consistent. The enormous jump in his K/BB standard deviation (10.63, almost ten times its value from the previous year) tells you he's been much more wobbly on the mound, and more often, than you might care to see.

Putting Paulie in to face Gagné was a masterstroke from McKeon. Of everyone who has a chance to hit him, LoDuca was the most likely to at least not make an out, given he had caught him before, and Gagné didn't have his A stuff, not by a long shot.

About everything else: The offense wasn't overwhelming, but adequate, and OP pitched a gem. Too bad he didn't get a win.

Gagné's blown save is a bad omen when the next team we see is Atlanta, who themselves just blew out Trevor Hoffman and beat the Pads, 6-5.


Pickoff Moves

The Effects of Line Drives on Pitcher's ERA

Thanks to The Hardball Times for pointing us to this study of the effects of line drives on ERA. The verdict: "it seems that using information beyond the factors included in DIPS or FIP systems to evaluate players is not very useful." I took a look at this earlier based on the effects of defense (which generated a large number of comments), and passed on a Baseball Think Factory article trying to find a chink in DIPS' armor. The emperor is still clothed, so far as our calculuses have been able to ascertain.

A History Of The Tools of Ignorance

Once upon a time, catchers played without gloves, shinguards, face masks, and chest protectors. There's a reason the catcher's equipment is nicknamed "the tools of ignorance"; you can find their history here. Did you know, for instance, that Todd Hundley's father, Randy, introduced the hinged catcher's glove to the majors? Or that the Dodgers invented the hinged shin guard in the 60's? Cool stuff.

Noteworthy From Baseball Prospectus

In true bulletpoint fashion, from Will Carroll's column today (as always, it's pay-for-play):

Collateral Damaged?

The sailing may be fairly smooth for the Dodgers -- well, up until we meet St. Louis, anyway -- but Frank's possibly in some hot water as concerns his south Boston property. It seems that he's got two years from last January to sell his 24-acre properties at a $200M valuation, the figure he used to acquire the team. One problem with that: the nearby 16-acre Fan Pier site just sold for $125M, which "may make McCourt's dream of a considerably larger payday unlikely anytime soon, real estate executive [sic] say." All I can say is, this offseason will be very interesting indeed.

The Truth At Last?

Sometimes, there's a veneer about our fellow bloggers that we'd really rather not peel off; the truth can be too disconcerting. Batgirl was a librarian? Say it ain't so!

Injury Update

Robb Quinlan has a torn left oblique muscle that will end his season. Also, Escobar had a blister on his pitching hand last night. No wonder he was leaving some fat ones over the plate. Also in the first story, Washburn threw off a mound without any problems, and Benjie Molina was activated but isn't expected to be ready to play until Thursday or Friday.

Update: use the link from the Daily News story, not the Angels website; thanks to Purgatory Online for the heads up. I was originally going to use the Times story on this, but it doesn't mention the season-endingness of the injury. Oh, sucky day.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Yu Darvish Update

Yu Darvish, the Iranian-Japanese prep pitcher I wrote about in February continued his successful ways, pitching his team into the Japanese prep finals. Unfortunately, he was beaten 3-1 once he got there. The Dodgers, Angels, and Mets all have scouted him, and according to one poster on japanesebaseball.com, he has "made noises" about signing with an MLB team.

Padres Release Rod Beck

The Padres unconditionally released Rod Beck and called up OF Freddy Guzman from AAA Portland. Beck was 0-2 with a 6.38 ERA in 26 games with the Padres. At one time, Beck held the major league consecutive saves record, with 41.

Games, Games, Games

Devil Rays 8, Angels 3

I turned this one off after the seventh; it had the ugly smell of another bullpen implosion, and sure enough, kaboom. The Angels had a toxic reaction to the bad news that streaking Robb Quinlan got sent to the DL, and it seems to have gone downhill from there. As Richard might say, let us never speak of this again.


Dodgers 6, Marlins 1

Wilson Alvarez isn't perfect -- he's had his blowouts, but in general, he's continued to be a quality pitcher wherever the Dodgers put him. Now that Dreifort's got a torn knee ACL, the thin reed that is the Dodgers' pitching depth gets even thinner, and so, more stress on everyone, including Alvarez, who will have to pitch deeper into games to compensate. Wilson today got out of one hell of a jam, caused by atypically bad fielding by Adrian Beltre -- three straight bad plays in a row that loaded the bases. Yet, Wilson got two strikeouts and a force out at second to end the seventh. The guy's a stud; despite the calculus that says the Dodgers need starting pitchers more than relievers, the fact is that we're better off with him in the pen taking over for Dreifort, er, Mota as Gagné's setup guy. Fantastic, fantastic win for the Blue.


Dreif Done

I missed it earlier in the game, but Vinny mentioned in the seventh that Dreifort has a nearly-torn ACL (in his knee?). He'll be done for the year, and possibly into spring training of next year.

The Homer

Jay Jaffe launches upon a defense of Gary Sheffield in his blog of late. Here:
"There aren't five hitters I'd rather see swing the bat than Gary Sheffield, but there aren't five ballplayers I'd less rather root for..."

Back in December, as his handshake agreement with George Steinbrenner appeared to unravel, I wrote those words about Gary Sheffield, along with several others even less favorable. I stand by the first part of that statement. ...

As for the second part of that statement above, it's as gone as a Shef homer. Watching him play on a daily basis has forced me to re-evaluate everything I know about Gary Sheffield. The bottom line is that the guy can play for my team any day, and despite the occasional off-the-cuff remark that has generated controversy, he's been a model citizen since donning the pinstripes and a pleasure to follow.

Ah, but what of the intentional throwing of balls into the stands when he was in Milwaukee? What about his late season meltdown in 2001 (hitting .274/.382/.453, 3 HR) with the Dodgers in September/October in the midst of a pennant race? What about his psycho act when he almost turned down the Yankees' bid? Jaffe in one sentence discloses the unfortunate disease that crosses all of us from time to time, and perhaps Yankees' fans more so than others: the problem of seeing players through the beer-goggles of homerdom. Sheffield might have impressive numbers, but his performances at Milwaukee -- and to a lesser extent, LA -- make him a questionable character not unlike proto-supercreep Hal Chase, tempered only by the fact that Shef never threw a game for money. The lines Bill James wrote of Chase apply equally to Sheffield: "That he was a manipulator nonpareil is clear. That he was a great player is not."

Angels Lineup Moves

According to Rex and Phys, the Angels have brought up Benjie Molina, and put down Robb Quinlan on the DL with an oblique muscle strain.

Incidentally, can I mention that PAX coverage looks amateurish compared to Fox?

Pickoff Moves

Reports Of My Demise: Marlins 4, Dodgers 2

Watching Darren Dreifort do his best Kyle Farnsworth imitation didn't help my overnight stay at the hospital whatsoever. Jon's right: as with Ishii and Green, he's well past his freshness date. Pre-All-Star break, he owns a 3.76 ERA; post-All-Star break, its 6.57. IMO, he's a candidate to go back to the DL.

The other story, obscured by the meltdown of the interminably injured Dreifort, was that of Hee Seop Choi. Choi, since he came to the Dodgers, has not completed a single game at first. While he continues to get walks, his offensive production has to be classified as a bust; by his subsequent usage patterns, it's obvious Tracy agrees. If Penny isn't recovered before the end of the season, this trade will have negative consequences for 2004 -- the year that it was supposed to help most.


OT: An (Aural?) History of KROQ

I stopped listening to KROQ about five years ago or more; it long ago ceased to be what it was, a great font of new music, instead of whatever Clear Channel happened to get paid to push this month. For those of you who remember the heyday of Jed the Fish, Richard Blade, Rodney Bingenheimer, and all the other guys who made KROQ the wonderful radio station it used to be, here's an oral history of the station. IMO its halcyon days were between 1981 (when I started listening) and about 1986 (when KNAC axed the old "Rock-N-Rhythm" format in favor of HARD ROCK). A trifle old -- from the November 2001 issue of Los Angeles magazine -- but still relevant.

Update: on a related note, thanks to blogger Zoot for passing along this 80's lyrics quiz. My score is far too embarrassing to mention...

Monday, August 16, 2004

What A Card!

I guess I don't get this. Maybe I'm misrepresenting it, but I gather John's principle complaint is that the wildcard "is more likely to have the adverse effect of eliminating one of the two true AL pennant races." First off, what he means is "one of the two AL division races", because as we know there's only one pennant, determined by the winner of the AL Championship Series. But then, this --
MLB is willing to sacrifice at least one pennant chase every year, sometimes two, for the sake of increased attendance in two parks, plus the TV revenue that the division series brings (which is a whole lot more than those last-weekend regular season games).
And what, I ask, is wrong with that? I recognize that the Wild Card winner has rarely gone anywhere in years past, and the Central divisions of either league have won their league's pennant but twice (Cleveland, in 1995 and 1997), but to label the sudden abundance of postseason slots a waste is absurd. I might be more inclined to agree with him but for two things:
  1. The Wild Card has produced three champions since it was introduced.
  2. There have been wackier things suggested, chief among them the idea that the top two teams in each division should enter the playoffs, and the winners selected among those. That has all the disadvantages of the NHL's bizarre system, where something like half the clubs can have a shot at a postseason berth.
The Wild Card format gets a lot of abuse, but I daresay it ain't earned proper.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Angels 3, Tigers 2

Sele 6.06102204.47
We had guests over, and as the entertainment moved to Farscape, I wandered out to the garage to play with woodworking toys. Ergo, I didn't pay attention to this game until well into it, when -- surprise! --
  1. Sele had managed to hold the Tigers to the tune of one run
  2. The Tigers, in fact, scored two runs overall
Translated, it was Sele's best performance in ages, and so when, in the eighth, the club got a gift out from the pitcher and converted it to the winning run, well, hallelujah. For those calling for Percival's head at this point, well, remember the following point: as Terry Smith put it after the game, Percy has 23 in 28 opportunities; Frankie has closed out 9 of 15. So, yeah. He blew it for us on Friday, but this isn't a reason to throw him out just yet.

The most excellent news is that the Angels are now only a half game out of the division, thanks to a loss by Oakland against the fargin' Royals. That's two consecutive series the A's have dropped against sub-.500 teams. When you start reading Athletics Nation and see things like this --

Barry Zito with an 8-8 and a 4.79 ERA versus Zack Greinke with a 4-9 and a 4.94 ERA.
-- and this --
Rich Harden has been the A's best starting pitcher since the All-Star break. His ERA since the break is 2.66. Redman's ERA is second with a 3.86.

The Big Three? Hudson, Mulder and Zito=5.06 ERA, 5.16 ERA and a 5.30 ERA respectively. Granted, Hudson is making his way back from injury, but Mulder has suddenly become hittable and Zito's year-long struggles have continued.

-- why, their fearsome starting rotation starts to sound positively Ortiz-esque. Surprisingly -- and nobody's more surprised than I am -- the Angels have a shot at the postseason. Really.


Kyle Farnsworth, I Love You: Dodgers 8, Cubs 5

Those who went after me for wishing the Dodgers would see Prior must've had a giggle today, as the Dodgers barely survived the former USC pitcher's excellence. But, luckily for the Dodgers, Dusty put the hapless Kyle Farnsworth in to donate some runs to the Blue, and that was that.

We were flipping back and forth between the game and the Olympics coverage -- of yesterday's games, apparently -- and somehow, we missed Duaner Sanchez pitching a scoreless seventh. Unnnfortunately, the Dodgers can't be assured of anything like that for the teams they'll be playing coming up, and they won't be helped by the fact that Bradley limped off the field.

Update: Here's a quote from the ESPN wrapup of today's Dodger game on Gagné's opinion of the team's chemistry:

"When you come back like that for a five-spot in the eighth inning, it's really good," Gagne said. "It tells you a lot about our team chemistry."
Which, apparently, is buzzing along just fine minus its heart and soul.


Penny On The DL

Rats. But, Nomo will make a rehab start Monday, and we've got a new LOOGY in Mike Venafro.

Just So, And Amen

August 15, 2004, 10:55 PDT: Ross Porter calls Dodger Thoughts "an excellent fan website" in the pregame show. Thanks for noticing.

Pickoff Moves

DePo Still Rates With Ex-Boss

Billy Beane backs up his former assistant despite uninformed criticism:
"You think about a guy in his first year as GM, to have that kind of conviction and to do what he did, ultimately in the face of criticism, and to stand up to it all, that's the kind of guy you want leading your franchise, someone not following mass opinion."

Yankees Acquire Everyone, Etc.

Factoids galore in this New Jersey Star-Ledger article:

How Werth Got Here

A nice story in the Springfield State Journal-Register about how Jayson Werth became a Dodger. "I felt pretty comfortable when they traded me to L.A., knowing what was going on over here and what they had."
"I thought when we acquired him, there was no doubt in my mind that he could be a platoon outfielder and play all three outfield positions. And I also thought that he had a very legitimate chance to be a very good everyday player," [DePodesta said].

"The downside I thought on him was very, very limited. I really thought he'd be a good platoon guy. I thought the upside on him was enormous. What he's done so far this year I think has even exceeded my expectations for him."

Snakes Headed For A Bad Place

Arizona Diamondbacks record since Al Pedrique took over: 7-33
Arizona Diamondbacks record since Finley trade: 2-10

Helen made a good point last night: the Snakes had a .311 WPCT (33-73) as of the trade deadline, but they now have a 35-83 record, for a .297 WPCT. That translates to a 48-114 record, but if they keep playing they way they have since August 1 (2-10, .200 WPCT), they might actually end up with a record of 44-118, for a major league record all-time worst. Let's say they'll be motivated down the stretch.

Two Teams, Two Roads

A good article in the Sacramento Bee about the Giants and A's approach to player acquisition.

Newhan Bullet Points

From today's Ross Newhan column:

Angels Bullets

Again from the Times:

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